THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS THE LATEST FROM BOTH THE CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND STATE OF ALASKA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES.
THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS THE LATEST FROM BOTH THE CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND STATE OF ALASKA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a disease caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2. Most people with COVID-19 have mild symptoms, but some people can become severely ill. Although most people with COVID-19 get better within weeks of illness, some people experience post-COVID conditions. Post-COVID conditions are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems people can experience more than four weeks after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Older people and those who have certain underlying medical conditions are more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19. Vaccines against COVID-19 are safe and effective.
How does the virus spread?
COVID-19 spreads when an infected person breathes out droplets and very small particles that contain the virus. These droplets and particles can be breathed in by other people or land on their eyes, noses, or mouth. In some circumstances, they may contaminate surfaces they touch. People who are closer than 6 feet from the infected person are most likely to get infected.
COVID-19 is spread in three main ways:
For more information about how COVID-19 spreads, visit the How COVID-19 Spreads page to learn how COVID-19 spreads and how to protect yourself.
How can I protect myself?
What should I do if I get sick or someone in my house gets sick?
People who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19—excluding people who have had COVID-19 within the past 3 months or who are fully vaccinated
What is the difference between isolation and quarantine?
When should I seek emergency care if I have COVID-19?
Look for emergency warning signs* for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately
*This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.
What are virus variants?
The virus that causes COVID-19 is constantly changing, and new variants of the virus are expected to occur. Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear. Other times, new variants persist. Numerous variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 are being tracked in the United States and globally during this pandemic.
If you think about a virus like a tree growing and branching out; each branch on the tree is slightly different than the others. By comparing the branches, scientists can label them according to the differences. These small differences, or variants, have been studied and identified since the beginning of the pandemic.
Some variations allow the virus to spread more easily or make it resistant to treatments or vaccines. Those variants must be monitored more carefully.
As the virus spreads, it has new opportunities to change and may become more difficult to stop. These changes can be monitored by comparing differences in physical traits (such as resistance to treatment) or changes in genetic code (mutations) from one variant to another.
By studying each variant and understanding these differences, scientists can monitor, and often predict, whether a variant is more dangerous than others. Scientists can also use this information to track the spread of a variant.
Why get a COVID-19 vaccine?
Vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. Other steps, like masks and social distancing, help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others.
The combination of getting vaccinated and following CDC recommendations to protect yourself and others provides the best protection from COVID-19. For more information regarding the benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine, visit the CDC’s website.
How do COVID-19 vaccines work?
There are three main types of COVID-19 vaccines that are or soon will be undergoing large-scale (Phase 3) clinical trials in the United States. Below is a description of how each type of vaccine prompts our bodies to recognize and protect us from the virus that causes COVID-19. None of these vaccines can give you COVID-19.
New Approach to Vaccines
Within the next month, messenger RNA vaccines—also called mRNA vaccines—are likely to be some of the first COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States.
mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases. To trigger an immune response, many vaccines put a weakened or inactivated germ into our bodies. Not mRNA vaccines. Instead, they teach our cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein—that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.
At the end of the process, our bodies have learned how to protect against future infection. The benefit of mRNA vaccines, like all vaccines, is those vaccinated gain this protection without ever having to risk the serious consequences of getting sick with COVID-19.
Sometimes after vaccination, the process of building immunity can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity.
Most COVID-19 Vaccines Require More Than One Shot
All but one of the COVID-19 vaccines that are currently in Phase 3 clinical trials in the United States use two shots. The first shot starts building protection. A second shot a few weeks later is needed to get the most protection the vaccine has to offer. One vaccine in Phase 3 clinical trials only needs one shot. It’s important to get the second dose for the COVID-19 vaccine to be effective.
How do I know the vaccine is safe?
After a vaccine is authorized or approved for use, many vaccine safety monitoring systems watch for adverse events (possible side effects). This continued monitoring can pick up on adverse events that may not have been seen in clinical trials. If an unexpected adverse event is seen, experts quickly study it further to assess whether it is a true safety concern. Experts then decide whether changes are needed in U.S. vaccine recommendations. This monitoring is critical to help ensure that the benefits continue to outweigh the risks for people who receive vaccines.
Expanded Safety Monitoring Systems
The following systems and information sources add an additional layer of safety monitoring, giving CDC and FDA the ability to evaluate COVID-19 vaccine safety in real time and make sure COVID-19 vaccines are as safe as possible
When do I need to wear a mask?
After you are fully vaccinated for COVID-19, take these steps to protect yourself and others:
Can the COVID-19 vaccine give me COVID?
No, vaccines cannot give someone COVID-19. None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19. There are several different types of vaccines in development. However, the goal for each of them is to teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity.
It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it’s possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.
If I have already had COVID-19 and recovered, should I still get vaccinated?
Yes, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 because:
Evidence is emerging that people get better protection by being fully vaccinated compared with having had COVID-19. One study showed that unvaccinated people who already had COVID-19 are more than 2 times as likely than fully vaccinated people to get COVID-19 again.
If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
If you or your child has a history of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in adults or children (MIS-A or MIS-C), consider delaying vaccination until you or your child have recovered from being sick and for 90 days after the date of diagnosis of MIS-A or MIS-C. Learn more about the clinical considerations for people with a history of multisystem MIS-C or MIS-A.
Experts are still learning more about how long vaccines protect against COVID-19. CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.
Do I need a booster? How many doses of COVID-19 vaccine will I need to get?
COVID-19 Vaccine Primary Series
The number of vaccine doses you need depends on which vaccine you receive.
If you receive a vaccine that requires two doses, you should get your second shot as close to the recommended interval as possible. You should not get the second dose earlier than the recommended interval.
COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable for your COVID-19 vaccine primary series.
If you received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for your first shot, you should get the same product for your second shot.
Additional Primary Dose If You Are Immunocompromised
If you received a Pfizer-BioNTech (ages 12 and older) or Moderna (ages 18 and older) mRNA COVID-19 vaccine primary series and have a moderately to severely compromised immune system, you should receive an additional primary dose of the same mRNA COVID-19 vaccine at least 28 days after the second dose.
Additional primary doses are not interchangeable. The vaccine used for the additional primary dose should be same as the vaccine used for the primary vaccine series. If the mRNA vaccine product given for the first two doses is not available or is unknown, either mRNA COVID-19 vaccine product may be administered.
The CDC recommends everyone ages 5 years and older receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster after completing their primary COVID-19 vaccination series. Adults 50 years or older are eligible for a second booster shot.
If you get a booster shot you have the option to either get the same COVID-19 vaccine product as your primary series, or you can get a different COVID-19 vaccine. You may have a preference for the vaccine type that you originally received, and you may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or J&J/Janssen). You may consider the benefits and risks of each product and discuss with your healthcare provider which COVID-19 vaccine product is the most appropriate booster for you.
Does the vaccine have an impact on fertility?
There are no known fertility impacts from the COVID vaccine. It’s worth noting that in both the Pfizer and Moderna trials, which checked for pregnancy often and required all women to be on birth control, about as many women became pregnant in the vaccine sides of the trials than the placebo sides. In the Pfizer study, 12 women became pregnant in the vaccine group and had no known adverse effects in their pregnancies. Eleven women became pregnant in the placebo group and two miscarried of that group (which is about a normal miscarriage rate).
In the Moderna study, six women in the vaccine group and seven in the placebo group became pregnant. In the vaccine group, there were no reported problems in the pregnancies. Of the seven in the placebo group, one had an abortion and one miscarried.
The CDC notes that ‘No safety concerns were demonstrated in rats that received Moderna COVID-19 vaccine prior to or during gestation in terms of female reproduction, fetal/embryonal development, or postnatal development,’ and ‘There is no recommendation for routine pregnancy testing before receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine. Those who are trying to become pregnant do not need to avoid pregnancy after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination.’
If I am pregnant, can I get a COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes, COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people 12 years and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future. You might want to have a conversation with your healthcare provider about COVID-19 vaccination. While such a conversation might be helpful, it is not required before vaccination. Learn more about vaccination considerations for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
If you are pregnant and have received a COVID-19 vaccine, we encourage you to enroll in v-safe, CDC’s smartphone-based tool that provides personalized health check-ins after vaccination. A v-safe pregnancy registry has been established to gather information on the health of pregnant people who have received a COVID-19 vaccine.
Will a COVID-19 vaccine cause me to test positive for the virus?
Vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States will not cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection.
If your body develops an immune response, which is the goal of vaccination, there is a possibility you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.
What COVID-19 vaccines are authorized in the United States?
What are updated, or "bivalent", vaccines?
The updated vaccines are called “updated” because they protect against both the original virus that causes COVID-19 and the Omicron variant BA.4 and BA.5. Two COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, have developed updated COVID-19 vaccines.
When did updated vaccines become available?
What are original, or "monovalent", vaccines?
Previous COVID-19 vaccines are called “original” because they were designed to protect against the original virus that causes COVID-19.
As of April 18, 2023, the original Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are no longer authorized for use by the FDA in the United States. Updated Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are being used for all age groups.
As of May 6, 2023, J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine has expired and is no longer available for use in the United States.